Advanced Amsterdam



Over the years, the HIGH TIMES Cultivation Department has written extensively on the grow scene in Amsterdam and throughout Hol­land. These stories have always presented plenty of information. the­ory and technique on cannabis cultivation—but still, in recent years, it’s been hard not to feel a little disappointed with the Dutch horticul­ture scene. as there has seemed to be a bit of a drop-off in the latest research, development and application of new technologies.Advanced Amsterdam 00

After all, this is the place where the big agriculture industry first brought hydroponics to the forefront of commercial growing for vegetables. flowers and. eventually. cannabis. The Dutch really helped to promote the art of indoor growing and were largely re­sponsible for the advent of major developments in indoor garden­ing, such as the use of artificial grow mediums like rockwool and hardened expanded clay aggregate and the fully automated deliv­ery of nutrient solution to entire gardens. They were there at the outset of high-intensity discharge MIDI lighting and atmospheric control. and they were among the first to propagate cannabis via the cloning method. as Amsterdam has always been at the cross­roads of the genetics trade.

So it was something of a relief—if not downright exciting—to discover. on my recent foray into Amsterdam’s cultivation industry. that there seems to be a grow renaissance developing: one that barely existed just six months ago. as the technology is truly in its infancy in terms of the commercial hydroponics market. Still, new advances in both lighting and grow substrates are now taking root in growrooms in the world’s First City of Cannabis.

With that in mind, here’s a firsthand look at what’s on the horizon for indoor growers.


Advanced Amsterdam 01If you’ve been keeping up with the latest in the world of HID lighting, you already know about the serious technology gap that exists between HID bulbs and the newer electronic and digital ballasts used to power up the lamps. Traditionally, HID bulbs were ignited using magnetic ter core-and-coil) ballasts, and these are still an option for indoor growers. However. electronic and digital ballasts are more efficient in using electricity and usually emit less heat than their magnetic predecessors. (Note: The terms “electronic and “digital” ballasts are basically in­terchangeable. as are the terms magnetic.”traditional” or “core-and-coil” ballasts.)

The problem. however, isn’t one of power consumption or processing; its more about how that power is outputted and the frequency at which these ballasts operate. Traditional mag­netic ballasts operate at approximately 40 to 50 hertz, whereas electronic ballasts come in at a whopping 20,000 hertz—yet 99 percent of the HID bulbs on the market were designed for the earlier magnetic ballasts and are not compatible with today’s newer electronic ballasts.

This may sound confusing at first, especially since any standard HID bulb will still fire up with an electronic ballast—but what we’ve learned is that the average lifespan of these bulbs is shortened by almost 50 percent when using this combination. What occurs inside the bulb is known as acoustic resonance, whereby the increased frequency of the electronic ballast ac­tually causes the light arc in the inner tube of the bulb to fluctuate at a much more erratic and unstable rate, causing small ruptures within the inner glass envelope of the bulb where the light is produced. Not only does this shorten the life of the bulb, but it can also cause unsafe leakage of the gases (such as sodium and mercury) inside.

In the years since this fact was discovered, growers have had few options: They could ei­ther continue using the traditional magnetic ballasts. or they could use an electronic ballast and buy twice as many of the standard HID bulbs each year, or they could try to hunt down the new digital bulbs made by Sun Pulse, the only company known to commercially sell such items to local hydro shops. But the first option isn’t quite progress, the second wastes extra dollars, and the third was hard to come by, since many shops had trouble staking the limited quantities of digital bulbs available.

Enter Gavita. Gavita is a specialty lighting company that designs high-end (complete lamp kits with ballast and bulb runs between $400-$600 each) gear for the professional horticulturalist. Philips. on the other hand. serves the horticultural market

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